Scholar Category: Homelessness/Poverty

Valeria Bustillos

Major: Architecture

Project: I am interested in addressing the housing crisis. Affordable housing is plummeting; individuals and families are finding themselves stuck and unable to meet the costs of high-priced homes. There should not be a struggle to afford a secure place to live.

Inspiration: My biggest inspiration for this project is my community and those around me. I understand what this issue means personally and have seen it all across my community.

Future Plans: Living in a secure home should not feel impossible or overwhelming to keep, which is why I hope to combat home insecurity with my work. I hope to better understand and work towards a solution that would set families and individuals up for success with their housing situation.

Jennifer “Jen” Adame

Major: Social Work

Project: I’m planning on bringing awareness on homelessness and find a way to supply any necessities for those in need.

Inspiration: I took a social work class and homelessness is a current issue in Colorado. I want to support those who are experiencing homelessness.

Future Goals: I hope to build experiences to make myself more prepared for the social work field. Also, I hope to learn new things and expand on it

Miguel Hernandez

Major: Computer Science

Project: I am considering a way to give accessible and portable wifi, including computers, to students who don’t have access to these commodities. These will help students with school, work, and everyday use.

Inspiration: During high school, I didn’t have my laptop. However, I received a computer from a class program I was in called kidsTek. I did well in the class, even receiving Student of the Year, and for being a good student, they gifted me a laptop, which I still use to this day.

Future Goals: I hope that students will have easy access to technology, which will enhance their educational life- and their life in general. Especially in our modern time, low-income families who don’t have access to technology fall behind in many opportunities. I wish to give them those opportunities.

Jamie Frausto

Major: International Business

Project: I’m passionate about creating practical housing solutions for the unhoused along with programs and resources that assist individuals with obtaining services that can be beneficial to helping them improve their lives. I believe that shelter is a basic human necessity and if we made housing accessible to all, we can decrease the amount of unhoused individuals and lift others from the brink of poverty.

Inspiration: I became inspired to solve housing issues affecting individuals living in poverty due to the rise of the unhoused population in the city and county of Denver. Witnessing the growth of homelessness change the face of the city, made me want to make a difference that would affect each and every resident.

Future Goals: I hope to engage the community of Denver and active city legislators to collaborate on initiatives that transform the housing opportunities for residents living in Denver regardless of their income and social status. Together we can improve not just the lives of the unhoused, but make our city one that provides opportunities to all.

Anahi Alvarez

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Project: For my Puksta Project, I am planning on mentoring students at a specific high school and providing seniors with college prep, advice, and resources on how to prepare for college. I especially want to help first-generation students and students from low-income households find scholarship opportunities available at their college of choice.

Inspiration: What inspired me to choose this project was thinking back to my senior year in high school and really wanting to attend a 4-year university. The only barrier I had, was being able to afford it. There were many resources provided by my school, but I would’ve never known, if I didn’t do the research myself. I know how difficult it is to make a college decision, so I want to make this process simpler for students who want to attend university.

Future Plans: I hope to increase the number of first-generation students in predominantly white universities and allow them to be an example for future generations. I also hope to lift some weight off student’s shoulders and reassure them throughout the college application process.

Aaron Staten

Major: Entrepreneurship (Business School)

Project: Free (wireless) internet for impoverished students and those on EBT/Medicaid.

Inspiration: I hacked video games at the age of 8 (1997) and am very knowledgeable about anything dealing with computers and networking. I founded my own computer repair business around the age of 15 that is still in operation, going on for 2 decades. This project won’t take much funding other than equipment costs. I have friends in the South who can professionally climb towers and set everything up.

Future Goals: Providing resources for those who can’t afford internet, even with the ACP program which takes $30 off any eligible internet service provider. I’ve run out of internet on my phone and had to pay more, so I can imagine how much more it impacts those even less unfortunate than I am. This will include home and mobile internet, so one can stream videos on khan, YouTube, or any medium and never worry about at least one resource needed for a proper education.


Maddy Kessler

Major: Architecture and Planning

Project: I am hoping to learn how to best give these resources out to local towns and maybe even get a stronger engagement with the people in each neighborhood! I am currently researching how best to engage people to come together, as well as talk with government agencies with a powerful voice.

Inspiration: I was shocked to learn how many people did not know about redlining and the systemic issues that shaped where people live in this state. Many don’t know about the resources they have so they aren’t forced to move, and I want more regulation on the amount of gentrification that has been happening to Coloradans.

Future Plans: I hope to slow the ongoing displacement happening and raise awareness of the devastating impacts it has on the economy and local people.

Graciela “Gracie” Leal

Major: Social Work

Project: Hostile architecture is negatively impacting where and how people experiencing homelessness get to live. My goal is to shift the funding that is put towards this kind of architecture towards resources more beneficial to the impacted people.

Inspiration: Volunteering at food banks has allowed me to see the different kinds of people that are struggling, even within the small town where I come from where I thought everybody was financially stable. It makes me want to help these people live comfortably and safely.

Future Goals: I want to get more funding put towards homeless shelters in Denver or other major resources that they could use day-to-day.

Samantha Rodriguez

Major: Sociology

Project: Bringing awareness to the assumptions made about the unhoused community.

Inspiration: What inspired my project is similar work I did in high school for a math project. I dealt with lots of statistics that I gathered from my school community and used that to decipher the general feeling held by the community surrounding the unhoused community.

Future Goals: I hope to bring awareness on ways to assist the unhoused community in different ways that people usually assist the unhoused community. I hope to build trust between those that choose to assist and the unhoused community.

Alexandria “Lexi” Walker

Major: Nutrition and Food Science, Minor in Chem, Pre-dental

Project: For my project, I have researched nutrition, good oral hygiene practices, chronic diseases, homelessness and all correlations between these topics. I hope to be able to talk to local dentists and ask for donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss that people usually get after every hygiene visit. I plan to package and distribute these to the local homeless people that I serve at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. My plan is to give one bag to every person when they’re getting their meal an informational pamphlet regarding the importance of dental health & overall health. My goals and visions are to fill a void by supplying resources and educating others to help improve dental hygiene and the overall health of homeless and low-income people.

Inspiration: When my dad was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, it sparked my interest in the dental field due to the disease having a large effect on his oral health. Over the course of my education, I have come to realize that so much of our overall health is affected by what is going on inside our mouths. According to the CDC, oral conditions are frequently considered separate from other chronic conditions, but these are actually interrelated. Poor oral health is associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. As a local volunteer myself, I can say that there is no specific work being done on the issue of dental hygiene in Fort Collins regarding homeless or low-income people and families.

Future Goals: Every member of the homeless community will have resources and access for dental health care, Continuous supplies will be donated, Find someone to eventually take over this project idea‚ Dental Hygiene will contribute to their overall health‚ More Biofilm Growth Experiment: Streptococci Viridians‚ Peru, impoverished areas, learn more, correlations? I believe that a happy, healthy, confident smile can go a long way (: